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ISS NASA Space Science

Shuttle Discovery Docks With Space Station 77

Velcroman1 writes "The space shuttle Discovery has docked with the International Space Station for the final time at 2:15 p.m. EST, where it will make a last delivery to the orbiting space lab — before parking ultimately at a museum. With Discovery's presence, the ISS becomes a truly 'international' space station. This is the first time spacecraft from the United States, Russia, Europe and Japan have all docked simultaneously, NASA said. The station also hosts the Leonardo Multipurpose Module built by the Italian Space Agency and recently gained Dextre, the Canadian Space Agency's robotic handyman."
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Shuttle Discovery Docks With Space Station

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 26, 2011 @05:09PM (#35326096)


  • by Big_Breaker ( 190457 ) on Saturday February 26, 2011 @05:45PM (#35326298)

    The crew could take a Soyuz down.

    It seems like the shuttle would make meaningful addition to the usable to the ISS with its arm, cargo bay and pressurized quarters. What a shame to deorbit all that useful stuff and mothball it in a museum.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      A) The Space Station already has an Arm, one far more flexible than the Space Shuttles
      B) What is the point of a cargo bay if you have nothing to put in there (or take out after the current manifest is removed) and nowhere for it to go once that nonexistant cargo is removed
      C) The Space Station has about as much pressurized quarters as a 747 right now, so what exactly is the small compartment on the shuttle going to do to improve that?

      In addition, the equipment on the shuttle is not designed to remain in orbi

    • It wasn't built for that. Among other things- it leaks atmosphere.
    • by vadim_t ( 324782 ) on Saturday February 26, 2011 @05:57PM (#35326372) Homepage

      It's been mentioned before it's not perfectly pressurized and can't remain in space indefinitely. Even if it was perfectly pressurized it'd still need to get supplies from somewhere. So it would become useless pretty fast.

      Also, the ISS is in an unstable orbit and must be re-boosted periodically. The shuttle would need to do the same as well, or eventually decay and burn up in the atmosphere.

      I think ending up in a museum is a much better fate than that of Columbia.

      • by mrbcs ( 737902 )
        It's not back yet.
      • by sznupi ( 719324 )
        It would be useless pretty much instantly... most of its mass and drag-creating structure is determined byt airplane-like reentry.
    • by Nerull ( 586485 )

      The orbiters are not capable of staying in space for longer than about two weeks.

      • by Nerull ( 586485 )

        It's also hard to fit 6 people in a three person soyuz.

        • by sznupi ( 719324 )
          In two three person Soyuz OTOH...
          • by Nerull ( 586485 )

            It's going to make it pretty hard for the rest of the crew to get down when there are no spacecraft there after the shuttle crew takes them all.

            • by sznupi ( 719324 )
              Well, I guess it might boil down to who gets first to Makarovs (last time I checked) in Soyuz descent modules... ;)
    • The station has to be reboosted regularly to stay in orbit. extra weight means more propellant to stay up. Since current costs are ~$5k/pound, it is a budget thing. Plus the usable space in the shuttle is a compromise to allow it to fly, not optimized for on-orbit operations.
    • The crew could take a Soyuz down.

      Not *a* Soyuz, but rather *six* of them because a Soyuz can only take one passenger at a time. Given the current production and flight rate that means it'll take two and a half to three years to return all the Shuttle crew to Earth - and in the meantime, you're reducing the Station's effective crew from three to two. (As you can't boost a crewman for which there is no downbound seat and none of the Shuttle's crew is qualified to fly the Soyuz.)

      • by sznupi ( 719324 )
        Well, the new ("digital") Soyuz apparently requires only "one and a half" crew members for operation - one full time, one with fairly limited role and relatively basic training. I imagine the latter could be done on the ISS... especially considering the background & experience of ~half of Shuttle crew.

        (I'm not saying leaving the Shuttle like that isn't stupid; just throwing in a small factoid)
        • That still doesn't things that much - because it still takes two crew to fly *up*. Even if you fly two Shuttle crew down, you still leave one extra behind for a net gain of only one down. The station crew rotation is still hosed.

          • by sznupi ( 719324 )
            Not sure why I drew a blank on that... Oh well, it's not quite so bad, it should take half the time you suggested & Valeri Polyakov might still hold to his record; Soyuz flies on average around every 3 months (and it would reduce the Station's effective crew from six to four... but not quite, since there would be plenty of closely-enough qualified personnel at hand ;p )

            At least we know it shouldn't be too hard with four Shuttle crew members, considering that's the size for last mission (and, hm, in a
    • by sznupi ( 719324 )
      The Shuttle is mostly an airframe, by mass / volume (mass which needs to be reboosted and surface which creates drag).

      I'll repeat that - the Shuttle is mostly an airframe.
    • The crew could take a Soyuz down.

      Each Astronaut/Cosmonaut needs to have their own personal seat custom ?injection? molded to them, for safe re-entry and landing in a Soyuz capsule, if this hasn't been done previous to them going up, they are not going down.

  • Really? That's like going to Hooters for the food.

  • by Jon Abbott ( 723 ) on Saturday February 26, 2011 @07:19PM (#35326774) Homepage

    Be sure to check out Space Weather's Flybys [spaceweather.com] page or Heavens Above [heavens-above.com] to see if the ISS and Discovery are viewable overhead in your neighborhood. I tried a few zip codes and it looks like the NYC area will get to see a very bright ISS and Discovery pair on March 5th. This will be the day that Discovery undocks [wikimedia.org] so you may get to see two bright dots moving across the sky from that area. I had the opportunity to see the ISS with Atlantis recently undocked on STS-129 and it was an impressive sight.

    • I thought about doing this with my telescope, but my understanding is that the ISS crosses the sky pretty damn quickly. How do you get a telescope to track it at those speeds?

      Or, is the only way to do this to use binoculars?

      • by Jon Abbott ( 723 )

        Yes, it does transit rather quickly, usually over a couple/few minutes. I typically just watch it with the naked eye, although this week I am interested in using binoculars. I would attempt to get photos or video of it but I don't have an accurate way to lock in a precise az/el/RA/dec. That and my telescope doesn't have a computerized equatorial mount. One thing you can do if the ISS is bright enough (I'd say -1 apparent magnitude or lower) would be to use a wide angle lens and capture a bulb exposure o

  • I understand this is a US-centric site but to say something isn't truly international without the US is just dumb.

    • Well, being on a different continent can't hurt.

    • I understand this is a US-centric site but to say something isn't truly international without the US is just dumb.

      My thoughts exactly. When it said

      With Discovery's presence, the ISS becomes a truly 'international' space station. This is the first time spacecraft from the United States, Russia, Europe and Japan have all docked simultaneously, NASA said.

      I thought, "Yeah, when it was just Russia, Europe and Japan, that wasn't international at all. They were just different states within the large country of

    • Look, this is the first time that all partners have had crafts up there. Historically, only 2 nations have had crafts up there at the same time. But when you have all participants up there, then the write gets excited. Personally, I would argue that you are making a mountain out of a molehill.
  • the Leonardo Multipurpose Module built by the Italian Space Agency

    The Italian Space Agency built most of the 'US' segments. I know they built Node 1 (Unity), Node 2 (Harmony), and Node 3 (Tranquility); I believe they built the US Lab (Destiny) as well. So while they did build the MPLM modules (including Leonardo), it's hardly their largest product on the station ;)

    (Italy built the US segments due to US budget cuts; in return for eating some of the cost, they gained infrastructure and expertise. One way that paid off was with Columbus, the European lab - the same number

  • Sure, US took down their manned-reusable space vehicle, but before deciding what its replacement should be. Looks like they're going to have to depend upon the Russians (Soyuz).
  • Fox News? For a story about something other than Paris Hilton or Anna Nicole Whatever? Please...
  • by unassimilatible ( 225662 ) on Sunday February 27, 2011 @01:02PM (#35331180) Journal
    I knew these astronauts were badass pilots, but this is just ridiculous.

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